Legal and Medical Concerns

Do you have durable (Medical) power of attorney?

Do you even have any idea what it is??

We are in the States right now and this morning, I had a phone call from one of our neighbors…

Betty was calling from our local hospital. She had called 911 that morning because she couldn’t catch her breath. She’s 85 year old and she was a long-time smoker and now she requires oxygen supplementation. She has her tank with her almost all of the time. She gets around home just fine — usually — but this time she got scared and rightfully called 911.

Betty called me from the hospital…  she called to ask  if we could go to her home and check on her husband, Bob, who unfortunately is just beginning to show the signs of dementia.  So of course, I ran over and checked on Bob right away. I didn’t waste a minute…

I knocked on the door and waited. I knocked again — a little louder this time — and waited before going in (Betty entrusted us with her house keys long ago).

As I walked in, there was Bob, sitting in his usual chair, watching out the window as he usually does. Thank goodness he was alright, just a little dazed and confused, but that was normal. We quickly said hello and chatted for a bit to make sure he was ok, then immediately went to the hospital to check on Betty.

When we were at the hospital, one of the attendants came in and asked Betty if she had a Durable (medical) Power of Attorney – I was amazed when Betty said they didn’t have one! I decided at that moment what the subject of today’s article would be because it’s so crucially important for you and your spouse. Everyone should have TWO Power of Attorney documents: one for health matters and one for financial matters.

In my previous article, Preparing A Will For Seniors, I gave you instructions that should help out a lot, but I mostly stressed the legal/financial concerns. But it’s just as important to make sure every doctor you go to has in your file your Medical Power of Attorney.

Here’s the big difference: A Medical Power of Attorney (healthcare proxy) gives the designated person you specify the authorization to communicate your wishes regarding end-of-life medical concerns.

In sum, a Medical Power of Attorney gives that individual the authorization to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

Think about that. In the event you are unable to communicate or speak, the person you designate can speak for you and make decisions based on your expressed wishes. And this is what may happen sometime in Betty’s life.

And right now, she is going to have to try to convince her husband that he needs to sign this important form. It’s a simple one-page document. Truly, both Bob and Betty should have taken care of this long, long ago. It’s a terrible thing to have to wait until the last minute… and it would be worse, irreversibly worse, to wait until it’s too late.

Please, make sure you take care of your responsibilities and make things easier for your loved ones. Don’t postpone and put it off or create even more unnecessary stress at a time when you (or your loved ones) are already stressed out.

Talk to your attorney AND/OR do some Googling today. Just remember: I’m not an attorney. I can’t tell you what to do or provide legal or medical advice. So be sure to do the right thing and consult with a trusted professional on this very critical matter. The next step is up to you.

Very best regards,


PS and Update: Betty did follow through and now she and her husband are safe — thank goodness. But this event is probably going to change they way they look at their comfortable lives. They have decided to sell their home and move closer to their children, a rather natural decision that I see happening more and more at this age. Regardless, their decision to execute their Power of Attorney documents was a smart, prudent thing to do.

Addition Feb 3, 2013 – the amount you need to move to Mexico has changed – see –

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8 Responses to Legal and Medical Concerns

  1. Teresa

    February 18, 2012 at 8:12 am

    What about all the violence in Mexico now? I think feeling safe is a number one concern of all folks going to Mexico not just retirees. I always wanted to retire in Mexico, but now I hear horror stories. A lot of people are going to Costa Rica now. What is your opinion please.

  2. Teresa

    February 18, 2012 at 8:34 am

    If I wanted to come down to check it out and stay a bit what would be the fastest way?

  3. Teresa

    February 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Do our POA’s and Will stand up in Mexico?

  4. [email protected] German Translator

    February 19, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    If my vote had to be given for the new age mecca of an ideal place to live in, my vote would most definitely go to Mexico. I realize that there are problems that are associated with the medical and legal facilities that are available in the country. But the family values there are worth taking the small risk. I think it depends what people prefer when it comes to living in a place, services or values.

  5. Barbie


    February 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Hi John – well, don’t exactly know the problems you’re talking about – but, sure, it’s a great place to retire and make your pennies stretch. Barbie

  6. Barbie


    February 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    US and Canadian Wills are valid in Mexico. However, getting the US and Canadian instruments recognized may entail a rather lengthy and expensive process. In the case of US documents, they need to be apostiled and notarized in the US and then converted into Spanish by a court-approved translator before the file is brought to the Notario. He will initiate probate. To be proactive – draft a Mexican will. If you have property in Mexico and die without a Will, the state courts will look to the interstate provisions of their respective civil code to determine the disposition of assets and establish guardianships. Do remember, I cannot and do not give any legal advise – just try to lead you in a good direction. Barbie
    PS – Mexican Wills are valid in the US and Canada

  7. Barbie


    March 1, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    If you have serious questions, and if you haven’t visited or experienced, then, maybe Costa Rica will be the place for you. Best to you, Barbie

  8. Barbie


    March 1, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Why not take a plane ride to a couple of areas – see what you think. Barbie

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